Tag Archives: rice cream

Sweet Treats in Berlin

The benefit of picking an apartment or apart-hotel to stay in is that there’s enough of a kitchen to allow us to cook safely for the children and we always travel with our extra suitcase of safe foods to make sure that we have enough of the essentials to see us through our time away from home. We never know what we’ll be able to find food-wise and it’s good to have a plan in our back pockets “just in case”. However, let’s be realistic, who really wants to cook when they’re on holiday? Certainly not me and so we had settled on a good compromise for a short break in Berlin, one that we’ve found has worked well for us in the past and which keeps the children happy too.

Even when we travel in the UK, I always make sure that I have breakfast cereals and cartons of rice milk packed as we’re never quite sure what dairy-free milks we will find and we start our days with breakfast in the room. Thanks to the great location of our Citadines Kurfürstendamm Berlin hotel, there was a Starbucks coffee shop and local bakery within easy walking distance, so Mike trekked out each morning to pick up a coffee for me and some freshly baked pastries and bread rolls for us to enjoy. We had also agreed with G and M that we would take packed lunches out with us daily and so had taken some Bfree wraps for M to enjoy, whilst we had picked up some great gluten-free bread rolls for G in a local supermarket. Both kids love cooked meats, so finding some safe lunch meat in the same supermarket was a great bonus and absolutely delighted them. Sadly, this same supermarket didn’t stock any rice milk, although there was an impressive array of other alternative milks and we ended up getting some soya milk for G and just used our supply from home for M’s daily breakfast.

However, as we found our way to dinner one evening at the fantastic Pizzeria Simela – don’t worry, there’ll be more about this in my next blog post – we stumbled across Denns Biomarkt and as we had a few minutes to spare, I suggested we popped in to have a quick look around. This has to be one of the best spur-of-the-moment decisions I’ve made in quite a while as, not only did their bakery have gluten-free fresh bread available, but there was a great selection of other allergy-friendly options available too, including numerous cartons of rice cream, which somehow made their way into the spare suitcase for our homeward journey! M also took a fancy to the black rice milk that he discovered, though sadly the final product proved not to be as tasty as he was hoping it might be. Here are a few of the freefrom finds that were the biggest hits with G and M:

Friederike from Jute Backerei: Well, who could refuse these amazing looking cookies from this gluten-free bakery? The clear labelling meant I could see from a quick glance that these were gluten-, dairy- and egg-free, so potentially a safe treat for M to enjoy alongside his sister. With the help of Google translate, I scanned through the list of ingredients and was happy to see that whilst they were baked in an environment containing soya, the cookies themselves were soya-free and didn’t contain anything that made me particularly worried about M eating one. They were absolutely huge and, I am reliably informed by both children, also extremely delicious!

Das Eis Triple Choc Ice-cream: Since getting home from Berlin, I’ve discovered that Das Eis is a huge vegan brand of ice creams and sorbets. Made from almond and rice milk, this ice-cream was also soya-free and so another treat that I was happy to let M try – once he had taken an extra dose of his array of anti-histamines and other medicines. There were a couple of flavours available in Denns Biomarkt as well as some other brands of dairy-free ice-cream, but the Das Eis Triple Choc was the only one that was also vegan and soya-free and therefore the best option for M. The children somewhat reluctantly shared the small tub with Mike, but they all agreed it was worth it.

Ben & Jerry’s Non-Dairy Chunky Monkey Ice-cream: After our trip to the DDR museum, M asked if we could go on river cruise to enjoy our lunch and given the glorious day, Mike and I were both more than happy to agree. I had spotted some ice-creams for sale in the museum shop and had somewhat mindlessly looked to see what was available as I waited for Mike and the children to complete their purchases. G is notoriously difficult to buy an ice-cream for when we’re out and about as she won’t eat ice lollies and it’s rare to find a dairy-free ice-cream available for her. So, I was delighted to spot this vegan ice-cream, not least because we also felt we could allow M to try it as well whilst we were on holiday. The small pot was enough to satisfy them both before they tucked into their packed lunches and kept the smiles on their faces for the rest of the afternoon.

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The missing element

With only the occasional exception of the odd batch of chicken liver pâté, M has been consuming more than his fair share of dry rice cakes on a daily basis over the last 14 months. What started as a necessity because of his limited diet and the lack of finding a delicious and safe spread to use, continued because, however I looked at it, I couldn’t see a way to create that missing spreadable element. The recent discovery of a great rice cream which could be spread a little like butter has meant that things seem to finally be on the up as it not only provides a tasty addition to an otherwise inarguably bland food, but also adds some much-needed extra calories each day. Arsenic-levels-in-rice-crackers-and-Rice-Krispies_strict_xxlEven better, that upward trend continued this past weekend when, as Mike prepared some toast with lemon curd for my breakfast, my mind was drawn back a few summers to when I realised that I could make dairy- and soya-free lemon curd for the children to enjoy and I wondered whether I could take that original recipe a step further and produce one that would achieve M-friendly status.

To my delight, this looked to be one of the easiest recipe adaptations I’ve had to tackle in the last 15 months as there were only 3 ingredients to be replaced and all could be done in the simplest of fashions. My coconut milk became rice cream, the cornflour mix replaced by rice flour and the safe margarine could be substituted by coconut oil. Refusing to tell either M or G what I was planning, I sent them out on an errand to buy some more lemon juice from our corner shop and achieved a much-needed break from the near constant bickering we’d been subjected to so far that day. It was a beautifully sunny spring afternoon and I knew they’d benefit, not just from the feeling they were doing something useful for Mummy, but also from some sun, fresh air and a stretch of their legs. M was somewhat confused by my request as he was insistent I had more than enough lemon juice in the fridge already, but he was readily swayed by my demand for more and the promise of a special treat if it all worked out.

The process of making the lemon curd was actually a lot easier and quicker than I remembered. I have vague memories of making “proper” lemon and raspberry curd when G was in Reception as an end of year gift for her class teachers and remember standing at the hob, stirring the hot mixture until my arm both arms felt tired. I’m not sure why this recipe and method don’t take so long, but I’m definitely grateful for anything that takes less than 30 minutes to whip up these days. To my surprise, despite their initial interest, G and M soon became distracted by other activities and so I was able to finish the preparation and get the 2 jars into the fridge without them noticing. The distraction of a dairy- and soya-free chocolate fondue for pudding – my desperate attempt to use up as much of the leftover Easter chocolate as possible as sadly it’s not been a success for M – proved invaluable and Mike and I were able to hold off the big reveal until it became Sunday teatime. IMG_0277[1]The flavour is very sharp and not overly sweet and M has loved every mouthful, demanding it on a near daily basis for either lunch or a bedtime snack. G says she enjoys it too, though I’m certain she won’t be asking for it on anything like as regular a basis as her brother. Most importantly, it provides a break from the dry mouthfuls of rice cakes that M has become accustomed to and that, in my world, is absolutely priceless.

60 birthday wishes!

My Uncle's amazing cake - and delicious too

My Uncle’s amazing cake – and delicious too

This time last year I discovered the recipe for the best chocolate cake in the world and all in the name of baking an amazing cake for my Uncle’s birthday.  This year I was given the weekend off as my Aunt arranged for an old friend, who is also a fantastic cake decorator, to bake the birthday boy a special cake.  However, I couldn’t let my uncle’s extra-special birthday pass without preparing some sort of treat for the whole family to enjoy together, so I instead decided to revisit an old favourite, egg-free meringues.

My original thought had been to use the meringues plus a great new product I’ve discovered to make a M-friendly Eton Mess dessert.  I read about Soyatoo! Rice Whip on the fantastic Lucy’s Friendly Foods blog and had immediately ordered both the rice and coconut whipping cream to keep at home.  I’m always looking for easy alternatives to use for desserts other than just cakes or biscuits and the rice whip fitted the bill.  A couple of weekends ago, I had whipped it to serve with some home-made apple and blackberry crumble and both children had cleared their bowls – a sure sign of a big culinary success.

However, inspired by the prospect of the new Great British Baker series starting next week, I thought I’d give a nod to macarons instead.  I didn’t venture into completely new territory by attempting to add ground almonds to the mix (that’s for another day), but did colour my meringue mixture before baking and paired them into sandwiches for serving.  I made flavoured buttercream icings to sandwich my meringues together and used M and G as taste-testers for the final product.  I had mixed success.  The yellow and pink meringues turned out beautifully, but the orange ones were an unmitigated disaster and ended up in the bin.  I made lemon and strawberry flavoured icing, filled the meringues and served the “macarons” in a dish. I would love to show you how they looked, but I forgot to take a “before” photo and this is all that’s left for the “after” one!

A single, solitary strawberry macaron left

A single, solitary strawberry macaron left

HAPPY 60th BIRTHDAY UNCLE R!